My Life as a Guy in Local Rock Bands
When I was in high school, I wanted nothing more than to be in a rock band. Music was something that sort of spoke to me. Since I was a little kid, I always loved to sing. It started when my parents bought me several Alvin and the Chipmunk VHS tapes. (Am I old yet?) It then evolved to me listening to blink-182 all through high school. My mother had always wanted me to learn a musical instrument, so when I told her that I wanted to take guitar lessons, she was pretty happy.
Writing my First Songs
In high school after I had learned the basics to guitar, I was very much inspired by the simplicity of Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge’s writing styles from blink-182. They weren’t the kind of guys that wrote super long and complicated guitar solos. Instead, they wrote simple melodies coupled with simple lyrics that all came from the heart. The thing I loved most about them was that I could easily relate to these lyrics.
I wanted to be like them. I too had some issues that stressed me out on a regular basis just like any other kid in high school. I thought that maybe I could be just like them. I wanted to write lyrics about my situations and for other people to enjoy and relate to.
Trying to Form a Band
In high school, I had several other friends that liked the same music as me but none shared the passion that I had for it. I would try asking other friends to start a band with me but none were motivated. I found people that played guitar and drums but they would only want to just mess around on the instruments. None were committed to actually writing songs, rehearsing on a regular basis, and then performing.
My First Band – Game-21
Near the end of high school, I met my first band member. His name is Chris Ray. I had actually heard from a mutual friend that he played drums in our school’s band and also liked the same type of music as me. He was a bit shy and a bit too modest so when I asked him to play drums for me over and over he kept declining and avoiding me. I stopped pestering him for a while and he eventually came to me a bit after I graduated.
The First Members
I was desperate to get a band put together. I asked on Facebook to see if I could find a bass player. Eventually I got a response from a guy I was in theatre with during my Junior year of high school. He was the only guy that I could relate to in the play since everyone else was a huge theatre regular.
My First Shows
We played at a few open mic nights at Chris and I’s local church. It was really fun! I knew about 85% of the crowd so they were all very supportive even though we weren’t really all that good. They all cheered really loudly and it was like my dreams were coming true.
Kicking out a Member
I eventually added my good friend Bryan Anilao to the band as the lead guitarist. He seemed like a good fit because our personalities meshed pretty well, just like mine with Chris. While I was a bit more of the demanding leader figure, they both cooperated a lot while also offering their own ideas. I would bring in a song that I wrote and they would add their touches to it. It was a great system and it was really cool cooperating with other artists that shared the same passion as me.
My bass player was a great bassist and singer. The issues we had with him were not musically related, but more on our personalities. He wasn’t a bad person, but we felt that he did not really fit in with us as a group. As a band, we agreed to kick him out but guess who got to do it? That’s right, it was me.
I was 19 years old. I had NO idea on how to gracefully kick out a band member. I am the type of guy that loves (and maybe tries too hard at times) to please everyone. I kept pushing it off but eventually I was at the point where we were just arguing all the time.
I tried to do it but out of nerves, I couldn’t keep it together. I knew that not having him in the band was going to make everyone else happier and would allow for us to have more fun but I didn’t really explain myself too well.
The communication was poor. To him, it seemed like I was just kicking him because he hurt my feelings once or something. He felt betrayed and I don’t blame him. Although I did feel it was the right choice not to have him in the band, I should have gone about it in a better way. I should have really prepared better. I never want to have to do that again.
He was eventually replaced by Stevie Monzon on bass.
We’re Finally Sounding Good
This new lineup was working extremely well. We were practicing once a week and were getting to the point where we could play the songs in our sleep. That was what I had wanted from the start. Of course, before that I was excitedly booking shows while we had minimal rehearsals, we were getting a lot better.
For a good year in 2011, we were playing shows once or twice a month. We were all getting along super well and it was probably one of the most fun years of my life. I didn’t live a “touring” lifestyle since all of the shows were local, but we were constantly calling my friend Cameron to help us bring gear in his pickup truck to several different local locations.
My dreams were coming true. I had always wanted to front a rock band and jump all over the stage and play songs that I wrote. It was seriously the coolest thing in the world. We were not the greatest band in the world by any means but I was enjoying it. I got a lot of extra attention for it and my ego got very inflated.
Meeting Other Bands
While in Game-21, we met a lot of bands. Some that have become longtime friends now and others that have turned out to be shallow acquaintances of the past. There were a few bands that we even looked up to!
Unfortunately, not all of the bands that we looked up to weren’t very nice. They all had their own agendas. I was interested in meeting other bands and hanging out with them and relating to them sharing the same passions as us.
Unfortunately, that was not the case with all of those great bands. Some were nice to our faces while talking bad about us behind our backs and others just didn’t give us the time of day.
Others were even just friends with us for comic relief. Some didn’t take us seriously at all because they were all a lot better than us. Since they had been around longer and had had much more experienced, we were just a joke to a lot of the other bands.
A lot of feelings got hurt during that because I genuinely thought that I was making a lot of friends in the band scene. I guess that I was too naive going into this. I thought that other bands were just doing this for fun. Most were trying to “make it” in the scene and most have just turned out to be egotistical and fake.
I can’t leave out the nice bands, though. Despite most bands turning out to be fake, I want to give a shoutout to Plan Your Escape, Shaking Inside, Daily Drive, and My Distractions. I met a lot of bands in the local scene but I would say that guys in those bands were the most true to themselves and were also the most genuinely friendly people I met in the local rock scene. There were other cool bands, but these are the bands that I was closest to.
On top of the few cool bands I met, the photographers were even cooler. Many were college students that just loved to take photographs. It was a great scene to celebrate art. It was a real win win situation for us. We got free photographs from the photographers, and they got free publicity since we left their watermarks on the pictures. It could have been easy for all of them to charge us and it also could have been easy for us to photoshop out their watermarks but we were all good to each other.
Eventually, like with all good things, it came to an end. Internal tensions arose and we weren’t all getting along like we used to. Some of us had grown together while some grew apart. We probably would have kept going and eventually sorted it out, but Chris Ray went to college, so I used it as an escape.
My Second Band – So Far Away
Bryan and I started So Far Away with each other. We were in Game-21 together for two years and just understood each others strengths and weaknesses and enjoyed being in a band together so it made sense to form a new on with each other.
Bryan and I really liked the drummer in Daily Drive and we really wanted him to play for us but we didn’t want to steal him. We made sure that he was okay with being apart of both bands and eventually joined. Ian Galindo was the original drummer for So Far Away.
I also wanted their bass player to be apart of our band, but Bryan was unsure since he didn’t know him very well. I eventually convinced Bryan to give Omar Lopez a chance and he came on as bass player.
So Much Fun
While Game-21 will always hold a place in my heart since it was my first band, So Far Away was a lot better in certain ways. We jokingly called it “Daily Game Drive 21” or a “Super Group” since it was half Game-21 and half Daily Drive.
It took us a while to shed away the remnants of the other bands to form something of our own, but when we did, it was great.
We quickly made a lot of fans and it felt cool. We were nowhere near being “famous” or “successful” or even “super popular” but we played music that we liked and there was a small following of people that liked us and our music.
It’s really hard to explain the great feeling you get when you start performing the songs you’ve written in your garage and people tell you that it connects to them. It’s even better when people start learning your lyrics. It’s just a crazy thought! I think “how can they like that? it came from me!” The best part was when I got nervous and forgot lyrics to a song at one performance, I heard singing from offstage and I was helped to get back on track. It was really cool.
Ian eventually lost the drive he once had and decided to quit the band. After that, I lost my passion too. Game-21’s drama near the end had scarred me a little bit and this didn’t help. I’m not saying that it was his fault that I quit. It was more that when he left because he lost a passion for it, I did a lot of thinking and figured out that I wanted some time off from bands.
I Miss it but I Don’t
It has been a while since I decided to take time off of So Far Away. I miss the shows and the rehearsals, but at the same time I don’t miss the fake relationships with other bands, carrying my heavy amp everywhere, and playing to disapproving crowds.
Someday I’m sure that I’ll miss playing in bands enough to form a new one, but at this point I want to go at my own pace. I don’t want to have to be responsible for organizing rehearsals, leading a band, and having a lot of deadlines. I have still been writing songs off and on for my solo project, but now it’s time to see where life will take me.